Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting

Selva Negra Farm: Matagalpa, Nicaragua
Selva Negra is a unique, model farm in the Matagalpa region of Nicaragua. It's really part coffee farm, part mountain resort, part utopian colony! Coffee brings in most of the money to fund a host of sustainable agriculture projects. Walking the farm is a process of finding one thoughtful innovation after another...

Did I mention that it is very beautiful? This is the bungalo we stayed in, draped in vines and nestled in a bed of ferns. The farm is a sort of retreat-resort and has many small habitations like this, as well as a full restaurant with homemade breads, cakes, cheeses ... all vegetables and meat coming from the farm

One of the most beautiful buildings is the Chapel. It is a fairly recent addition, at the quiet end of the farm, after all the cottages. In fact it looks like it has been there forever, and is on the edge of the towering native forest.

Speaking of the forest, it is vast. Much of the farm has been set aside as old-growth protected habitiat, with a rich plant and animal life (including howler monkeys).

And here is one of your hosts at Selva Negra. Mousie, a nickname that stuck, and her husband Eddie Kuhl, operate the farm. The Kuhl family emigrated from Germany and are part of the European community that came to Matagalpa in the late 1800s. This is the garden adjacent to the Kuhl house on the farm.

Another picture of the farmhouse garden. You can find out a bit more at www.selvanegra.com


A basketball court at the end of a drying patio for coffee.

Eddie Kuhl is a farmer, a historian, and a bit of an artist. My favorites were his paintings in the coffee mill explaining the farm and its processes.

To the right, a diagram of their non-contaminating coffee-pulp/muscilage system. Muscilage is the fruity layer under the skin of the coffee cherry. It was traditionally washed into the streams after the wet-processing of coffee, but this is a natural contaminant of the water supply. Eddie's system takes care of this in a clever way.

The pulp is recovered for use in compost and organic fertilizer on the farm. Not only is the muscilage kept out of the water supply, it is actually used in a bio-gas recovery system that provides cooking and heating power for the farm! And when it's not coffee processing season and there's no muscilage, they capture gas from the manure of the cattle herd!

A bio-gas collection tank where bacteria degrade the muscilage and create usable gas.

They roast coffee on the farm ... mostly they use it to barter with suppliers for foods not grown on the farm, or other supplies they can't produce themselves. This is a hand-made primitive roaster, really amazing. And just think, it's roasting coffee with gas collected from coffee itself, or cow manure!

Also see:
Nicaragua Cup of Excellence Competition 2003
Nicaragua Trip 2003: Matagalpa and Nueva Segovia

Prodecoop "Sabor de Segovia" and La Union Coop

They have a larger roaster that comes from Guatemala, still quite crude. The entire chamber tilts to dump the batch, like a huge Jabez Burns sample roaster. And notice the unique roast chamber door.


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